Piper PA-34 Seneca

PA-34 Seneca
Piper PA-34-200T Seneca II
Role business and personal aircraft[1]
Manufacturer Piper Aircraft
First flight 25 April 1967[2]
Introduction 1971
Status In production
Produced 1971–present
Number built 5000+
Unit cost
US$799,000 (2009 base price)[3]
Variants PZL M-20 Mewa

The Piper PA-34 Seneca is an American twin-engined light aircraft, produced by Piper Aircraft since 1971 and that remains in production.[4][5][6] The Seneca is primarily used for personal and business flying.[1]


The Seneca was developed as a twin-engined version of the Piper Cherokee Six. The prototype was a Cherokee Six that had wing-mounted engines installed, retaining its nose engine. The prototype was flown as a tri-motor aircraft in the initial stages of the test-flying program.[1]

PA-34-180 Twin Six

With the decision to abandon the three-engined design tested on the PA-32-3M, the PA-34 was developed as a twin-engined design. The prototype PA-34-180 Twin Six, registered N3401K first flew on 25 April 1967. The prototype had two 180 hp (134 kW) Lycoming O-360 engines, a fixed nosewheel landing gear and a Cherokee Six vertical tail. The second prototype flew on 30 August 1968, still with the 180 hp (134 kW) Lycomings but had retractable landing gear and a taller vertical tail. During development flying the wingspan was increased by two feet. The third prototype was closer to the production standard and flew on 20 October 1969; it was fitted with 200 hp (149 kW) Lycoming IO-360-A1A engines.[2]

PA-34-200 Seneca I

Certified on 7 May 1971 and introduced in late 1971 as a 1972 model, the PA-34-200 Seneca I is powered by pair of Lycoming IO-360-C1E6 engines. The righthand engine is a Lycoming LIO-360-C1E6 engine variant, the "L" in its designation indicating that the crankshaft turns in the opposite direction, giving the Seneca I counter-rotating engines. The counter-rotating engines eliminate the critical engine limitations of other light twins and make the aircraft more controllable in the event of a shut down or failure of either engine.[4][6] A total of 934 Seneca I models were built, including one prototype.[6][7]

The early Seneca I models have a maximum gross weight of 4,000 lb (1,810 kg), while later serial numbers allowed a takeoff weight of 4,200 lb (1,910 kg).[6]

PA-34-200T Seneca II

A Piper Seneca II

Responding to complaints about the aircraft's handling qualities, Piper introduced the PA-34-200T Seneca II. The aircraft was certified on 18 July 1974 and introduced as a 1975 model.[6]

The new model incorporated changes to the aircraft's control surfaces, including enlarged and balanced ailerons, the addition of a rudder anti-servo tab, and a stabilator bobweight.[4]

The "T" in the new model designation reflected a change to turbocharged, six cylinder Continental TSIO-360E or EB engines for improved performance, particularly at higher altitudes. The Seneca II retained the counter-rotating engine arrangement of the earlier Seneca I.[6]

The Seneca II also introduced optional "club seating" whereby the two center-row seats face rearwards and the two back seats face forward allowing more legroom in the passenger cabin.[4] A total of 2,588 Seneca IIs were built.[8]

Gross weights are 4,570 lb (2,070 kg) for takeoff and 4,342 lb (1,969 kg) for landing, with all weight in excess of 4,000 lb (1,800 kg) required to be fuel.[6]

PA-34-220T Seneca III

In 1981, the PA-34-220T Seneca III was introduced, having completed certification on 17 December 1980.[6]

The change in model designation reflected an engine upgrade. Continental TSIO-360-KB engines were used which produced 220 horsepower (165 kW), although only rated as such for five minutes and then dropping to 200 hp (149 kW)).[6]

The horsepower increase, with the new engines' limit of 2800 rpm (up from 2575 rpm), combined for much improved climb and cruise performance. The new aircraft also incorporated a one-piece windshield and a bare metal instrument panel instead of one covered with a removable plastic fascia; some models have electrically-actuated flaps. More than 930 Seneca IIIs were built; the last 37 Seneca IIIs built had a 28-volt electrical system rather than the 14-volt system of previous aircraft.[6]

The aircraft's gross weight was increased to 4,750 lb (2,155 kg) for takeoff and 4,513 lb (2,047 kg) for landing.[6] A typical Seneca III with air conditioning and deicing equipment has a useful load of 1,377 lb (625 kg).[9]

PA-34-220T Seneca IV

In 1994, the "New" Piper Aircraft company introduced the Seneca IV, having achieved certification on 17 November 1993. This model was similar to the Seneca III offering minor improvements, such as a streamlined engine cowl for increased cruise performance. It continued to use the counter-rotating Continental TSIO-360-KB engines and gross weights remained unchanged.[6] A total of 71 Seneca IVs were built.[6]

PA-34-220T Seneca V

Two examples of Seneca V

Certified on 11 December 1996, the Seneca V was put into production as a 1997 model year. Again the cowls were redesigned for increased performance, several cockpit switches were relocated from the panel to the headliner, and an improved engine variant, the Continental TSIO-360-RB,[6] fitted with an intercooler, was used.

The Seneca V's gross weights remain the same as the Seneca III and IV at 4,750 lb (2,155 kg) for takeoff and 4,513 lb (2,047 kg) for landing,[6] therefore, with all of the added features, the useful load is reduced by about 200 lb (91 kg). The standard useful load for the 2014 model is 1,331 lb (604 kg)[10] but typically is 1,134 lb (514 kg) when the aircraft is equipped with air conditioning, deicing equipment and co-pilot instruments.[11]

Embraer EMB-810 Seneca

From 1975 the Seneca was built under licence in Brazil by Embraer as the EMB-810.[2] The PA-34-200T was produced as the EMB-810C Seneca (452 built) and the PA-34-220T as the EMB-810D (228 built).[2]


A Piper Seneca II with the engine cowl removed


A Seneca pivoting around its wing spar and pointing vertically downwards, installed around 4 meters above a pavement in a park, with people walking underneath
A rotating PA-34 was used by artist Paola Pivi for her exhibit How I Roll, briefly installed in Central Park, NYC in 2012[12]

The aircraft is popular with air charter companies and small feeder airlines, and is operated by private individuals and companies. One notable civil operator is the Costa Rican Air Surveillance Service.[13]



Notable accidents and incidents

Specifications (PA-34-220T Seneca V)

Data from Piper Seneca V Information Manual (October 25, 2005)

General characteristics


See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists


  1. 1 2 3 Montgomery, MR & Gerald Foster: A Field Guide to Airplanes, Second Edition, page 96. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992. ISBN 0-395-62888-1
  2. 1 2 3 4 Peperell 1987, pp. 227-232
  3. 2009 Business Aircraft Comparison Charts, Business and Commercial Aviation magazine (online version) retrieved 2010-03-30
  4. 1 2 3 4 Plane and Pilot: 1978 Aircraft Directory, pages 106-107. Werner & Werner Corp, Santa Monica CA, 1977. ISBN 0-918312-00-0
  5. Piper Aircraft (2008). "Welcome to the Seneca V". Retrieved 2008-09-08.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Federal Aviation Administration (August 2006). "TYPE CERTIFICATE DATA SHEET NO. A7SO Revision 17" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-09-08.
  7. The New Piper Aircraft, Inc., 2003, Introduction, p.2
  8. www.aerofiles.com (October 2008). "Piper aircraft page". Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  9. Piper Aircraft Seneca III Pilot Operating Handbook serial number 3448049, Section 6, Weight and Balance
  10. Business and Commercial Aviation Magazine, Purchase Planning Handbook, May 2014, Page 87.
  11. Piper Aircraft Seneca V Pilot Operating Handbook serial number 3449270, Section 6, Weight and Balance
  12. Calder, Rich (October 28, 2013). "Shoddy work cut short Central Park art exhibit: suit". New York Post. NYP Holdings. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  13. Official website, Servicio de Vigilancia Aérea del Ministerio de Seguridad Pública Costa Rica. "Image of SVA Piper Seneca". Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  14. Flight International 3 December 1988, p.31.
  15. Westerhuis Air International May 2000, p. 280.
  16. English 1998, p. 156.
  17. Serbian air force receives multirole Seneca Flightglobal.com
  18. Harden, Blaine (August 4, 1978). "Pilot of Obenshain Plane Called 'Very Cautious'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  19. "Ein Fuchs als Lebensretter für Uli Hoeneß". welt.de. Retrieved 2012-12-27.
  20. "Small plane with DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo crashes off Masbate | News | GMA News Online". Gmanetwork.com. Retrieved 2012-08-18.
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